Microsoft expands data centre region to New Zealand

Microsoft has announced it will be expanding its data centre footprint with plans to establish its first New Zealand data centre region.

The New Zealand data centre region will be in addition to its global data centre footprint in 60 other regions, with Microsoft Azure being available in over 140 countries.

“This significant investment in New Zealand’s digital infrastructure is a testament to the remarkable spirit of New Zealand’s innovation and reflects how we’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible as a nation,” Microsoft New Zealand general manager Vanessa Sorenson said.

The data centre will give New Zealand customers access to Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform. The company also assured the facility would mean customer data remains stored in New Zealand.

Microsoft added it has been working alongside Massey University and The Collaborative Studio to launch i4 Accelerator, a education program to address skills shortages

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TSB develops smart agent to help staff during pandemic

High street bank TSB worked with IT services supplier IBM to develop a smart digital agent to serve customers in the absence of bank branch support and overloaded call centres during Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Within five days of the agent going live on 25 March, it had answered more than 40,000 customer requests. This was done through a combination of a virtual assistant and employees.

Around 250 TSB employees, most of which are now working from home, were trained to work with the smart agent. Traditionally, these requests would have been answered by the bank’s contact centres or in a branch.

The current crisis provided a challenge to automate customer services, which will prove valuable in the future as banks increasingly automate customer contacts as part of digital transformation.

Smart agents, such as the one created by TSB amid the pandemic, can eventually be integrated across all bank systems

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LG to offer half-price program for Velvet smartphone in South Korea

LG Velvet will come in four colours.

Image: LG

LG Electronics plans to offer a 50% discount program for its upcoming flagship smartphone, the LG Velvet, in South Korea, the company has said.

Customers who agree to return their Velvet smartphone after 24 months of use and buy another LG smartphone afterwards will get the discount, it explained.

Meanwhile, the company also unveiled that the official pricing of the LG Velvet has been set at 899,800 won.

LG previously touted the Velvet as a “mass premium” device but the unveiled price is actually slightly higher than its predecessor, the G8 ThinQ, which was priced at 897,600 won when it launched in March last year.

It faces stiff competition from rivals, with the 64GB version of Apple’s iPhone SE to sell for 539,000 won and Samsung’s Galaxy A51 128GB to have a price tag of 572,000 won. The Apple and

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T-Mobile US claims ‘significant’ 5G standalone architecture firsts

T-Mobile US has announced what it claims are several important world’s-first milestones for standalone architecture (SA) 5G.

SA 5G has been described as “real” 5G, enabling network slicing and advancing industry-dedicated use cases. In making its claims, T-Mobile used the phrase “inventing the future takes a village”, recognising that the advancement of 5G depends on a series of partnerships among a number of key stakeholders within the 5G ecosystem.

“Powerful and reliable wireless networks are more important than ever, and these milestones mark a huge step forward for the entire wireless ecosystem,” said Neville Ray, president of technology at T-Mobile. “Standalone 5G, paired with the broad and deep network we’re building by combining the assets of T-Mobile and Sprint, will accelerate 5G adoption and services and transform wireless.”

First among these partners with T-Mobile US is Swedish comms tech provider Ericsson, from whom the operator has been able to use

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